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Dog deals blow to Kaweka kiwi population

Dog deals blow to Kaweka kiwi population

A Hawkes Bay kiwi recovery programme is urging hunters to take proper care of their dogs in the bush after an adult female kiwi was killed by dogs in the Kaweka Ranges on Wednesday.

The death comes just two weeks after the Environment Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust (ECOED) released the first kiwi chick, nicknamed 'Puk', back into the Kaweka Ranges in Hawkes Bay. Another kiwi is also missing.

ECOED Spokesperson Alastair Bramley said the death and the missing kiwi was a setback to the new kiwi recovery programme.

"This dead kiwi was one of the nine breeding pairs that are monitored in the Kaweka Forest Park as part of the joint 'Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay' project between the local community and Department of Conservation.

"The dead kiwi was found on Wednesday and an autopsy conducted that evening suggests that the kiwi was chased out of its territory, caught by the leg and left to die a painful death," he said.

"We are currently looking for the missing kiwi but are genuinely worried about its safety."

Mr Bramley said this is a high risk time for kiwi as deer hunters and their dogs head into the ranges for the annual 'roar'.

He said while responsible hunters with dogs are not considered a major problem, if the dogs become separated from their owners and are left to fend for themselves, then kiwi represent an easy meal.

"If a hunter loses or becomes separated from a dog in the Lotkow / Kaweka Road area - or in any bush around the country - we urge them to immediately contact the Department of Conservation for assistance in finding their dog," he said.

"North Island brown kiwi are now effectively extinct south of Hawkes Bay and hunters and others who use the outdoors have a really important role to play in helping to turn around their decline."

The main cause of the decline of kiwi in New Zealand is predation by dogs, stoats, ferrets and cats. While adult kiwi can fend off a ferret or stoat, they are defenseless against dogs.

Mr Bramley said a stray dog was picked up last Thursday, just 500 metres from where the dead kiwi was found. However, the wounds on the dead kiwi were so fresh, it is thought that at least one more dog is still at large.

The ECOED/Department of Conservation kiwi programme has been in progress for twelve months, with 10 kiwi chicks to be released into the Kaweka's over the next three months. This annual cost of the ECOED Save Our Kiwi Hawkes Bay programme is $200,000 and is being largely funded by the community. Major supporters include the Century Foundation, Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Rainbow Springs, Andy Lowe, Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust, DOC and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society. Volunteers also make a very significant contribution to the programme.

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